The Common Shelduck resembles a small short-necked goose in size and shape. It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. The wing coverts are white, the primary remiges black, and the secondaries green (only showing in flight) and chestnut. The underwings are almost entirely white. Sexes are similar, but the female is smaller, with some white facial markings, while the male is particularly crisply colored in the breeding season, his bill bright red and bearing a prominent knob at the forehead. Ducklings are white, with black cap, hindneck and wing and back patches. Juveniles are similarly colored, greyish above and mostly white below, but already have the adult's wing pattern.
Habitat and Distribution
This is a bird which breeds in temperate Eurasia. Most populations migrate to subtropical areas in winter, but this species is largely resident in westernmost Europe, apart from movements to favoured moulting grounds, such as the Wadden Sea on the north German coast. The Common Shelduck is common around the coastline of Great Britain (where it is simply known as Shelduck), where it frequents salt marshes and estuaries. Sightings of this bird are rare in North America and are reported as infrequent visitors to the U.S. and Canada.
Their diet consists of small shore animals (winkles, crabs etc.) as well as grasses and other plants.
This species is mainly associated with lakes and rivers in open country, breeding in rabbit burrows, tree holes, haystacks or similar.
Calls and Songs
The call is a loud honk.